Are You Settling?

Are You Settling?

“Chocolate bars are getting smaller, and everything is getting so expensive. I guess it is what it is.”
“We just have to live with it.”
That was the conversation between two people on the shuttle bus as I was heading to Heathrow Airport in the U.K. I was returning from the She Leads America hosted U. K. leadership forum at Windsor Castle and tired from a nonstop schedule but energized and enlightened with new perspectives on multiple levels.

Settling with just “how it is” wasn’t on the lips of the women whom I had spent the weekend with at this historic gathering. Granted, we were discussing some dramatic changes we see happening in both our countries and the world (and not the size of chocolate bars), but it made me stop and think about how easy it is for us to settle; to take the way of the world and trudge on doing nothing. It is counter to what God has mandated for us to do. He said, “Go” and make disciples—followers and believers of His Word and wisdom—and tell of His redemptive love that sets us free.

What was equally interesting about this particular gathering and the coming together of leaders of women from the U.S. and the U.K was that it was convening on the 80th anniversary of D-Day; June 6th, 1944 was the historic day the Americans joined with their allies, the Brits, to defeat the evil of Hitler and the Nazi regime of WWII. Evil today continues. The prince of darkness and his evil forces are still working to defeat believers of life, liberty, and the pursuit of God’s Biblical foundations that bring eternal happiness. This gathering of fearless leaders at Windsor Castle was not settling—they are determined, confident, and willing to leap with total abandon into the fire of the culture war and fight for God’s Kingdom. (more…)

The Influence Challenge: Why YOU Matter and Why We Need YOU

The Influence Challenge: Why YOU Matter and Why We Need YOU

After 2 years of volunteer service, Jean Christen stepped down this past month as Chief Operating Officer of Influence Women Global but will stay on as an Advisory Board member. She accepted the COO position, not knowing much about the great need, but was compelled by the mission of influencing women to change the culture through the effective use of media and knew women were key. She sacrificially gave her time, talent, and treasure to implement our explosive growth these past two years, and we’re forever grateful.

Jean got it!

She knew that if we were going to change cultural thought and the ongoing rejection of Biblical foundations, we had to support women who could create the change on our screens. Our children, grandchildren, and we ourselves are influenced by artistic endeavors, creative media, entertainment, and musical content—what we see and hear on our screens. Statistics tell us that we are overwhelmed with thousands of media messages daily. We check our cell phones an average of 150 times daily, and the average person globally now views TikTok 3.5 hours a day and Instagram and Facebook 4.5 hours daily. By population, Facebook is now the largest country in the world. Who’s speaking, teaching, planting churches and Biblical truths into their lives?

Where are the media-savvy Christian professionals creating programs and content to reach our media-driven world?

Sadly, most Christians would rather criticize the media, entertainment and arts community than invest in the professionals who work in and around it and who can make a difference from the inside.

It’s why you matter – you get it, too!

Here’s what one recent Influence Women member said after attending a Hollywood professional gathering, “As a singer/songwriter artist in the entertainment industry, Influence Women events have always been something I have looked forward to. They never fail to provide inspiration and encouragement from the stories of powerful women in the industry. It’s like iron sharpening iron where you meet others of your tribe: women of all generations in the entertainment industry and connect with new friends, possible future collaborators, and mentors. It’s great to know that we are not alone on this journey. Guaranteed that we leave every event with our bodies and spirits filled from the delicious food and the invaluable words of wisdom imparted and shared!”  Flo, a Hollywood professional musical artist.

Christian media/entertainment professionals often feel isolated and alone (more…)

An INNER VIEW with Producer Janet Craig

An INNER VIEW with Producer Janet Craig

BIO

Janet Craig is an Arizona-raised actress, writer, producer, and director. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Theatre while playing on the nationally ranked women’s tennis team at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, before moving to LA to pursue her acting career. Now a veteran actress, Janet has performed in a wide variety of roles on network television, film, and in theatre. Janet co-wrote, directed, produced, and acted in the award-winning narrative feature film WAKE UP, a project inspired by her personal experience with foster and trafficked youth. She has directed over a dozen short films, co-founded and created original content for ProReels, and co-written another narrative feature film that is currently in development. A lover of the ocean, mountains, and all things outdoors, Janet is grateful to live in beautiful Los Angeles with her family.

Janet was our recent guest interviewee at the Influence Women Hollywood Chapter Brunch and will be our next featured guest on the Influence Women Podcast. Catch more of her great, inspiring wisdom on the Influence Women YouTube channel.

INNER VIEW

Kathleen: Technology is supposed to make our lives easier and less demanding on our schedules, but in reality, that’s not the case. We just pile more on our plate. How do you navigate and prioritize your schedule?

Janet Craig: When I have more to do than I have time for, I have learned to stop and spend time with the Lord. In those situations, I am realizing more and more that intimacy with God is what I need. Meditating on His Word and praying is where I find His path for each day and the strength through His Spirit in me. I also realize that I must stop, pray, and die once again to my flesh when I start to feel my life spinning.

Making the movie Wake Up was a mountaintop experience for me. I watched as He allowed me to experience His hand on me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. During this time, I leaned into prayer and dependence on Him.

When I first created the story of Wake Up, I would stay up until all hours of the night, feeling energized and inspired. I did not consider myself a writer, but the story just seemed to flow out of me. After the movie was completed, I realized that a lot of the story I wrote was part of my own story. Not that I was trafficked myself, but I grew up experiencing trauma and brokenness from early childhood, and those experiences deeply influenced the story of Wake Up, making the movie autobiographical in many ways. God used my brokenness to teach me and turned all of my pain and suffering into deep dependence and comfort in Him alone.

Kathleen: Where do you turn and do when you need inspiration or encouragement?

Janet: I have been so grateful for faithful friends who inspire and encourage me. I often am inspired by the example of faith in others. I also get encouragement from listening to a great sermon and fellowshipping with other believers of Christ. Many kinds and genres of music inspire me also, but. the Bible is a huge salve to me. I love reading and meditating and memorizing scripture verses found in it. Spending time alone with God – journaling or praying at the beach, in my private prayer closet, outside walking/ hiking, or just sitting and observing the beauty of what God created is the best way I find rejuvenation.

One example that comes to mind is when a sister in Christ shared some tough stuff with me in such a beautiful way. She started by telling me something she admired about one of my children, and then she told me about the hard things she had gone through in her marriage. Her sharing these things first made her safe and trusted before she shared some hard news about the trouble my child was in. It was a lovely way of making me feel loved, encouraged, and safe with her.

Kathleen: What you’ve learned about making mistakes and times of failure?

Janet: I fail so often and believe it is a sweet reminder from the Lord of how much I need Him. When I fall on my face physically or blow it, I realize that nothing is beyond God. He is more than able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine.

When I was a young adult pursuing a professional tennis career, it was all about my own personal glory. I had Bible verses written all over my tennis racket cover, but I actually wanted people to notice me rather than give all the glory to God. I felt that I was a failure if I failed to become the world’s number one ranked player. When I blew out my shoulder in the Australian Open, it was actually God’s grace that brought me to my knees and got my attention back on Him.

Kathleen: Today is about being an “influencer.” What’s the one thing you’ve learned about influence?

Janet: Our whole purpose is to glorify God, and we should use our gifts and talents to do just that. We need to be willing to be open and transparent with our story. When I first started writing Wake Up, I was inspired by hearing a young woman tell her story of being trafficked. I wanted to bring the whole world into that room to hear it because I thought that if everyone heard her story, they would feel like I did and want to do their part to stop trafficking. It was her courageous willingness to tell her story, a story of brokenness, that made it so powerful. As I look back, I realize that God had plans for me to walk in my own story of brokenness that would intersect with hers to create Wake Up.

Courageously sharing our brokenness with others connects us with others who are hurting. When they see joy in the midst of suffering, pain and our dependence on the Lord, it brings God glory. He turns what the enemy meant for evil to good.

An INNER VIEW with Actress, Singer and Beauty Pageant Winner, Tania Joy

An INNER VIEW with Actress, Singer and Beauty Pageant Winner, Tania Joy

BIO

Tania Joy is an actress, singer, speaker, and winner of multiple beauty competitions – Miss Teen Illinois 1993, Miss Teen America 1994, and Miss Illinois 1996. She started Beauty for Ashes and is the host of her show, The Tania Joy Show, which focuses on combating the many anti-Biblical ideals and cultural norms of today. She has dealt personally with anti-Christian attacks on her career and life and as a mom, has had her family and Christian beliefs and values targeted for sharing her viewpoints and faith. She has worked in corporate American finance, Bio-Pharma, Retail, and HR but currently travels the country speaking about what it means to be a modern-day Esther. She is passionate about preserving Christian values, political freedom, and the importance of preserving the traditional family unit.

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke: As a TV host and speaker, you are passionate about preserving Biblically based values, but in today’s culture, it takes courage. What has God taught you about being bold in a Babylonian world?

Tania Joy: He is good and faithful through all of life’s storms and circumstances. When He calls you, He qualifies you. You might not feel qualified when He first calls you, but never doubt that you are not placed here, at this point in history, for such a time as this. He will use the foolish things of this world to confound the things of the wise and the weak to shame the strong. Just like Esther, she had to be willing to sacrifice even her own life to follow the call that God had placed within her. She was scared, yet she prayed, fasted, and then obeyed.

I have followed Jesus since I was 3 years old, but I was not fully prepared for what would be required these days to follow the narrow road laid out before us. The cost and sacrifice to follow His Word and teaching is often a difficult choice but one that God asks of us. Yet, when we fully surrender, we step into His fullness of joy, blessing, and fulfillment like nothing we could ever imagine. We are living in biblical days, the days of Noah, the days of Esther, the days of Gideon’s army, and truly in biblical proportions. We are seeing in America, for the first time, the cost of being a Christ follower, experiencing persecution like we have never seen. But let’s not forget that He has already overcome this world. We are only passing through. This is not our forever home. We were called to occupy until He returns, so let’s love Him above all other gods and love our neighbor as ourselves. I believe this is what we must encourage each other to do in these days.

Kathleen: How have you been able to find hope when things look so bleak in our world today?

Tania: The Word instructs us in Matthew 16:24 that we are to take up our cross and follow Him; in other words, count the cost. We are called to lay down our ways, our hopes, and our thoughts and seek Him for His dreams over our lives. Sometimes, what we face on this side of heaven will not ‘feel’ as good as we would hope. Jesus told us in John 15:18 that the world hated Him first and that, as a result, if we truly follow Him, the world will hate us in return. How many Christ-followers truly understand what it means to have the world ‘hate’ you, the culture, the common world around you, the community, and the social networks – ‘hate’ you? If we choose to follow Him against all odds, regardless of how unpopular it might make us, we will suffer in this world.

I have watched my world collapse around me multiple times; the suffering is deep, long, and hard. But the Word tells me 365 times not to fear. We will suffer. The world does not like what we stand for. The way to get through the suffering is to surrender all our callings, our fleshly desires, our hopes and dreams, and everything that we think about, knowing that He will sustain us. We are to be in this world but not of this world. It is often hard to understand the suffering we see in this world, but we must remember that we are living in a fallen world. When Jesus walked this earth, He reminded us, “Be of good courage because I have overcome the world” John 15:33.

Kathleen: The world is relentless. It pushes us to our limits with 24/7 non-stop demands. How have you found rest, particularly as a TV host and with the travel you do?

Tania: The Lord has been speaking to me a lot about rest. He told me about a year ago it would be crucial to know when and how to rest in Him. We are in a spiritual battle. There are many scriptures about the battle that we are in; my favorite is Ephesians 6:12: we “are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” The only way we can battle in this way is to know how to rest in Him at the same time. The Bible talks about rest; in fact, it mentions rest 57 times. Psalms 37:7 talks about finding rest in the Lord and to wait patiently for Him. During our busy daily lives, where we are surrounded by the push of the culture, social media, and 24/7 work, we have forgotten the importance of what rest can and will do to us.

Resting is vital for our health, increases our concentration and memory, healthier immune system, reduces stress, improves our mood, and gives us a better metabolism. What does that look like? Turn off the phone and let your thoughts be on Jesus! Put your mind on Him. (Col. 3:2) Then stay there. We have become a culture that thinks our ‘rest in the Lord’ is like a Tesla charging station: plug in for 30 min and then get back on the road of life. He wants our everything. This is how we renew our minds daily. He alone will refuel us. If we do not take the time to rest, we will have nothing to give out. “For out of the abundance of being in His presence, do we have what is necessary to flow out onto others. (John 7:38)

Kathleen: You have a big following and have become an influencer. What has God taught you about being the right kind of influencer?

Tania: The definition of influence has changed for me over the years. When I was young and dreamt of being an actress/singer, I thought of fame and fortune, of lights and cameras. That definition has drastically changed in me over the years, and I am thankful that the Lord was kind to keep me on the journey of transformation in preparation for today. Influence is a very powerful thing, it can sway culture, it can transform nations, it can change hearts and minds.

Being a woman of influence means that the words I say, the places I go, the things I support, the views I have, and the beliefs that I stand for – all have the potential to impact someone else. Both good and bad. My voice can bless or curse. Therefore, it is of high value that I surrender my life daily to Jesus, that I seek His face on a regular basis and listen for His words so that when I speak, I am not just sharing my thoughts, but I am sharing what I hear Him saying to His Bride in these days. Being a woman of influence is the power to touch others with the love, truth, and power of Jesus Himself in a broken and dying world. We have a great responsibility when we have an influence of any kind.  I believe He has placed many of us on this earth, at this point in history, for a specific reason. Like Queen Esther, she was prepared for the time at which she lived and was in the kingdom. Had it been years earlier or later, her impact would have been different. Every woman on this earth right now needs to be prepared and has been called for such a time as this to set the nations free and save God’s children from being stolen by the enemy.

An INNER VIEW with Acclaimed Concert Performer, Transformative Speaker and Houston Influence Women Chapter Director, Jade Simmons

An INNER VIEW with Acclaimed Concert Performer, Transformative Speaker and Houston Influence Women Chapter Director, Jade Simmons

BIO

Jade Simmons is an internationally acclaimed creator of transformational experiences designed to activate audiences into becoming the biggest boldest version of themselves possible. The world-class concert artist is also the CEO of Jade Media Global, a revolutionary live experience and global content distribution company specializing in 360 degrees of personal development and strategic transformation. Nicknamed “Classical Music’s #1 Maverick” and named one of the Best Keynote Speakers year after year, her electrifying, genre-bending concert adventures span Beethoven all the way to rap and include virtuoso storytelling, uncommon insights, and boundless inspiration. Her musical career has seen her performing in recitals and with orchestras in renowned concert halls, including the hallowed ones of the White House and the U.S. Supreme Court. Today, Jade’s experience not only delights concert audiences, but her dazzling, high-impact presentations are fast becoming the go to fuel for the world’s superlative brands and organizations from financial services to biotech, to entertainment, education, energy, and beyond. Companies such as Nationwide, Hershey’s, NBC Universal, Zillow, QuickBooks, and Raytheon bring Jade in to power up their most important resource…their people.

Jade is an ordained minister, creator of a dynamic coaching communiverse for visionary women of faith called Designer Growth Club, and the author of Audacious Prayers for World Changers and Purpose the Remix. She took her most audacious turn in 2020 as the founder of Operation Restoration, which powered her run as an Independent candidate for President of the United States.

 

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke: People often think artist careers just take off like rockets. Has it been for you, and what have you learned about a successful career?

Jade Simmons: Don’t wait around to be discovered. Discover yourself instead. God has front-loaded us with purpose, mystery, surprise, delight, and ever-evolving identity. We get to go through life on a perennial scavenger hunt to find out more about who we are in Him. I’ve learned that if we are not careful over time, we start allowing our goals to define us. We might let other people’s achievements change our direction, or we wait on others (as well as jobs, titles, and roles) to tell us who we should be. I personally like to spend time taking Revelation Walks, where I simply ask God, “Who am I in this season?” and “What do you want me to know now?”. You can ask these questions in relation to your art, your talent, your productions, and your projects. I’m never disappointed and always blown away by the discovery!

Kathleen: A life as an artist is one of constant uncertainty. How have you broken through that fear?

Jade: In a conversation about my tendency to leap fast when I sense the voice of God, my sister said to me: “You’re not just a leaper, you’re a free-faller in faith!” The biggest smile came across my face because I am so proud of that part of my identity. Today, I teach other visionary women how to get a little quicker with their jumps, leaps, and free falls where faith is concerned. I’ve learned that God rarely spells out the whole plan at the beginning, so you might as well take the first step so you can get on with the next one. And, it never fails that when I simply pick my foot up in the new direction, He begins to reveal more about what’s coming next. Secondly, I expect the things that are being revealed in my quiet time to start appearing in reality. So, when they do, I trust I can say yes to what’s being presented. Lastly, I also trust that if I make a wrong move, God will show me and help me make a new move or extract myself if need be.

Kathleen: Today, our identity is being attacked like never before. What has God taught you about embracing your identity in Him?

Jade: I truly believe God has created us to be extraordinarily unique beings made in His inimitable image. Nevertheless, we live in a society that prizes conformity on many levels. Especially in the case of survival (personally, professionally, physically, financially, and emotionally), conformity proves safest. Ultimately, those of us determined to get down to what I call our “Factor of 1” are in for a lifestyle of risk-taking. Impactful uniqueness looks like harnessing all of our gifts, skills, personality, and abilities to be used in the direction of purpose, for the good of many, often in ways that are different than what the world has seen previously. In doing so, we will likely buck against the status quo, move opposite the crowd at some point, and combine things that were once thought not to go together. More scarily, we will not be guaranteed of the outcome on this side of the action! But, when we risk moving like a maverick and we see the impact we have on an expanded and unlikely audience BECAUSE we took the risk, it gets a little easier the next time…and the next. My own career is one of lots of Divine detours, zagging when others were zigging, and daring to bring seemingly disparate concepts (music, businesses, or even people) together. When we look back on our lives and careers, we see that what was really happening was that we were not just doing new things or living through new situations. Instead, we were becoming more of our fullest selves in the process, our most unique identities.

Kathleen: Finally, our culture is driven to be influential today. What’s the one thing you’ve learned about being an influence?

Jade: Influence is happening whether we intend it to or not…so we might as well be intentional with it. I believe we each have a unique type of influence and a unique way of being able to influence. It’s pointless to imitate other influencers unless, of course, we are talking about Jesus, a worthy model. Remarkably, He was committed to His mission and His ministry, but He did not obsess over whether or not people were following! He was not constantly looking back to see if he was becoming popular! He simply focused on being who He was called to be, doing what He was called to do. His fruit created the following. As a highly ambitious person who can devolve into hyper-competitive thinking and overanalyze analytics, Jesus’s example of influence is the best reminder of the posture we should take.

Learn more about Jade’s audacious journey at jadesimmons.com as she takes the baton as the new Influence Women Chapter Director in Houston, Texas. Join her as she and the outstanding Houston IW team grow and create a “transformative experience” at each event.